Why does U2's Bono always wear coloured glasses?

10 November 2021, 15:25

Bono's round sunglasses are now a trademark look for the U2 singer.
Bono's round sunglasses are now a trademark look for the U2 singer. Picture: Getty

By Thomas Curtis-Horsfall

U2 frontman Bono has made wearing glasses come rain or shine his trademark for many a year now.

In that respect, he sits alongside the likes of icons John Lennon and Ozzy Osbourne who both wore similarly rounded glasses for different reasons.

Bono is an icon in his own right, of course, having been the founding member and frontman of U2 since their inception in 1976.

Read more: U2's Bono and Pharrell have covered 'Stayin' Alive' by the Bee Gees - but is it any good?

The Irish rock legend - whose real name is Paul David Hewson - has donned various forms of sunglasses over the years.

Earlier in the band's career, he was rarely bespectacled during his energetic live performances, but since the 90s he began to wear sunglasses big and small. Though, it's not just fashion over function.

Later settling the round tinted glasses we regularly see him in nowadays, there is a valid reason behind it.

Why does Bono always wear sunglasses?

U2's Bono has been bespectacled in public since the 1990s. (Photo by Mick Hutson/Redferns)
U2's Bono has been bespectacled in public since the 1990s. (Photo by Mick Hutson/Redferns). Picture: Getty

Bono has a condition called glaucoma, which he's lived with for decades.

In 2014 he appeared with his U2 bandmates on BBC One's Graham Norton Show, and opened up about the condition he'd been battling for some time after the host joked about him never removing his sunglasses:

“This is a good place to explain to people [...] that I’ve had glaucoma for the last 20 years."

The 'With Or Without You' singer then joked himself adding: “You’re not going to get this out of your head now and you will be saying, ‘Ah, poor old blind Bono.’"

Read more: When ABBA joined U2 for unlikely duet of ‘Dancing Queen’ and were blown away by crowd's response

Watch the segment below, courtesy of BBC America:

Glaucoma is one of a number of conditions that causes photophobia or light sensitivity in people's eyesight.

Tinted, wrap-around glasses that block out as much light as possible are known to alleviate this sensitivity.

Talking to Rolling Stone magazine, Bono said: "[I have] very sensitive eyes to light. If somebody takes my photograph, I will see the flash for the rest of the day. My right eye swells up."

"I've a blockage there, so that my eyes go red a lot. So it's part vanity, it's part privacy and part sensitivity."

What is glaucoma?

Tinted aviators were one style Bono donned for some time. (Photo by Elena Di Vincenzo/Archivio Elena di Vincenzo/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Tinted aviators were one style Bono donned for some time. (Photo by Elena Di Vincenzo/Archivio Elena di Vincenzo/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images). Picture: Getty

The NHS website says: "Glaucoma is a common eye condition where the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, becomes damaged."

"It's usually caused by fluid building up in the front part of the eye, which increases pressure inside the eye. Glaucoma can lead to loss of vision if it isn't diagnosed and treated early."

"It can affect people of all ages but is most common in adults in their 70s and 80s."

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?

Glaucoma doesn't usually have symptoms to begin with but it may affect your peripheral vision and include:

- Blurred vision

- Seeing rainbow-coloured circles around bright lights

If glaucoma develops suddenly it can cause:

- Intense eye pain

- Nausea and vomiting

- Blurred vision and seeing rings around lights

- Headaches

- Tenderness around the eyes

- Light sensitivity

Is glaucoma treatable?

Bono performing in Cape Town with U2 bandmate The Edge. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)
Bono performing in Cape Town with U2 bandmate The Edge. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images). Picture: Getty

Glaucoma is treatable, but if untreated then it can lead patients to go blind in some cases. Treatments for glaucoma include:

- Alleviating light sensitivity (with tinted glasses)

- Eye drops to reduce the pressure in your eyes

- Laser treatment (to open up blocked drainage tubes and reduce fluid in the eyes)

- Surgery to improve fluid drainage

Are there any other famous celebrities that suffer from glaucoma?

- Andrea Bocelli

- Whoopi Goldberg

- Ray Charles

- Bill Cosby

- Edgar Davids (Dutch professional footballer)

Read more: How did Andrea Bocelli lose his sight? All you need to know about the famous tenor